Freda’s Garden

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Garden Features

1

Drought Tolerant

2

Edible Garden

3

California Natives

4

Drip Irrigation

5

Pesticide Free

6

Rainwater Harvesting System

7

Sheet Mulching

8

Smart Irrigation Controller

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Lawn Conversion

10

Lawn-Free Landscaping

Installation was partially funded by “Cash for Grass” program. The lawn was removed with a sod cutter and the strips of sod were used to build planting mounds. There was a small area of Bermuda grass that was thoroughly hand-weeded (never to be seen again) and the entire 1000 sq.ft. was sheet-mulched and left undisturbed for 4 months. Then the drip irrigation, flagstone, plants and fountain were installed.
Fourteen 50 gallon rain barrels were installed on the east side of the house in 2018.  The water stored in the barrels is used throughout the dry season to top off the fountain and deep soak the Tangerine tree.
 The maintenance is seasonal, carried out 3 or 4 times per year. Most of the spent flowers are left standing to provide shelter, nesting and visual interest. The heaviest pruning and clean up takes place in the late winter. Other times of year the work is mostly a bit of weeding and some minimal tidying up. The mulch is topped up periodically. The drip irrigation is checked for leaks on a regular basis.
 The garden has grown and flourished, providing food, shelter and water for birds and insects and seasonal visual delights for people.  In dry years, the fountain is not run to reduce water loss through evaporation, but the basins are filled with excess clean household water for the birds and insects. When the fountain does run the sound of water is a magnet for all kinds of birds. In the fall or early winter, it can be mobbed by Cedar Waxwings and Robins!

Garden facts:
Lawn removal + sheet mulching: October 2014
Hardscape installation and planting: February 2015
Rain barrel installation: Summer 2018
Size ~1000 sq ft
Water use in the summer ~500 gal/month

Plants in this Garden

Arctostaphylos spp & cvs

Manzanita, 'Dr. Hurd'
Organization

Manzanitas vary from carpet-forming groundcovers to small trees. Manzanitas have varying shades of striking, reddish brown bark and can provide structure to a garden. These plants have evergreen foliage, small white-to-pink, urn-shaped blossoms in late winter to early spring, and then small fruits that resemble tiny apples.

Groundcovers: A. ‘Emerald Carpet’ (1’ x 3-6’), A. ‘Pacific Mist’ (2-3’ x 6-8’), A. nummularia ‘Bear Belly’ (1’ x 3’), A. uva ursi ‘Radiant’ (6” x 4-6’), A. uva ursi ‘Wood’s Compct’ (1’ x 3’).

Shrubs: A. ‘Howard McMinn’ (5-7’ x 6-10’), A. ‘John Dourly’ (3-4’ x 5-6’), A. ‘Lester Rowntree’ (8-10’ x 10-15’), A. ‘Sunset‘ (5-7’), A. bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’ (8-10’), A. manzanita ‘Sentinel’ (6-8’ x 5’), A. hookeri ‘Wayside’ (3′ x 8′).

Trees: A. manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’ (10-15′)

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: PinkWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringWinter
  • Fruit Color: Reddish Brown
  • Bark Color: Brown

Zauschneria [Epilobium] spp

California Fuchsia
Organization

Group of highly variable, semi-evergreen subshrubs and herbaceous perennials distributed over a wide geographic area, including California. Epilobiums bloom in late summer with tubular flowers providing a food source for hummingbirds migrating south and are also attractive to bees and butterflies. Epilobiums range from low-growing groundcovers to upright plants of several feet. Flower colors include orange-red, white, pink, and salmon. Most can be pruned back in late autumn to maintain a more compact form and be rejuvenated for the following year.

Low-growing examples: E. ‘Schieffelin’s Choice’; E. canum ‘Calistoga’, a selection from Phil Van Soelen from California Flora Nursery from the Palisades east of Calistoga; E. canum ‘Cloverdale’, a selection from U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum from along the Russian River north of Cloverdale with exceptionally orange flowers; E. c. ‘Everett’s Choice’, E. c. ‘Summer Snow’ with white flowers, and E. septentrionale ‘Select Mattole’, a somewhat redder flowering selection that is more shade-tolerant.

Upright examples: E. c. ‘Bowman’s Hybrid’ (2-3’), E. c. ‘Catalina’ (3-4’), E. c. ‘Liz’s Choice’ (3’) selected by Milo Baker Chapter CNPS Fellow Liz Parsons, E. c. ‘Marin Pink’ (2’) with pink flowers.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Gray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: OrangePinkRedWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): Fall

Yucca spp

Yucca
Organization

Evergreen shrubs and perennials that grow over much of North America and feature sword-shaped leaves. Yuccas typically produce flowers on tall stalks in spring. Some yuccas are stemless while others have trunks and grow to tree size.

Examples: Banana yucca (Y. baccata, 3-4’ x 4-5’) eventually forms a short trunk. Adam’s needle (Y. filamentosa, 2-3’ x 4’) has loose fibers at the edge of leaves. Others are Spanish dagger (Y. gloriosa, 10’ x 8’), beaked yucca (Y. rostrata, 12-15’), and our Lord’s candle (Y. whipplei, 2-4’ x 3-6’), native to Southern California and Baja California.

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Leaf Color: Blue GreenGray Green
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooming Season (s): Spring

Mimulus aurantiacus and hybrids

Sticky Monkey Flower
Organization

The orange, tubular flowers of sticky monkey flower can be enjoyed in many locations throughout Sonoma and Marin counties in spring and summer, a testament to how well this plant is adapted to hot and dry conditions. The slightly sticky leaves benefit from light pinching and pruning to maintain an attractive appearance and support for the beautiful flowers. Many hybrids provide color variation. Do not confuse this plant with the red-flowered scarlet monkey flower (Mimulus cardinalis), an herbaceous riparian plant that requires regular water to thrive.

  • Water: Very Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Sandy
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: OrangeRedWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Iris douglasiana & cvs

Douglas Iris, Pacific Coast Hybrids
Organization

Iris are a large and diverse group of perennials that grow from either bulbs or rhizomes. The California native Douglas iris and cultivars known as Pacific Coast Hybrids are an excellent choice for summer-dry gardens and understory plantings. Fall rain brings new growth in the form of thin, upright leaves, followed in late winter to early spring by the first blossoms. Douglas iris commonly ranges in color from lavender to purple, but cultivars are available in a range of colors including white and yellow. Established plantings can be lifted and divided after the first significant fall rain and either replanted or put into containers to share with others.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Partial ShadeShade
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: LavenderPurpleVioletYellow
  • Blooming Season (s): Spring

Bouteloua gracilis

Blue Grama Grass
Organization

North American native, warm-season bunchgrass with narrow, grayish green leaves. Ornamental flowers like small brushes form at right angles to slender stems during the summer and persist for many months. Blue grama is adapted to heat, drought, cold, and foot traffic. It does not thrive in shade or wet soils. Blue grama can be used in small clumps among other plants, in a mass as part of a meadow, or even as a lawn substitute. B. g. ‘Blonde Ambition’ is a popular and robust cultivar.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: Yellow
  • Blooming Season (s): Summer

Ribes spp

Currant, Gooseberry
Organization

Currants (without spines) and gooseberries (with spines) are grown for their graceful growth habit, attractive foliage, wonderful displays of pendulous flowers in winter-spring that are attractive to hummingbirds, and colorful fruit that provides a food source for birds. Most of the species listed are deciduous, going dormant in the summer months.

Examples: Some of the species suitable for California gardens, preferably with partial shade, are native to the Western United States:

  • aurem, golden currant (5-10’ x 3-6’), deciduous with small clusters of delicate yellow flowers and sprawling habit.
  • malvaceum, chaparral currant (4-8’ x 4-6’), deciduous with early clusters of pink flowers, a slightly vase-shaped habit, and more drought-tolerant than most species.
  • sanguineum var. glutinosum, pink-flowering currant (5-12’ x 5-12’), deciduous with maple-like leaves, a vase-shaped habit, and long pendulous clusters of pink, reddish, or white flowers in the spring; many available cultivars such as ‘Claremont’, ‘Tranquillon Ridge’, and ‘White Icicle’.
  • speciosum, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (4-8’ x 6-10’), deciduous with spiny, arching stems and bright red fuchsia-like flowers along the stems in the spring that are attractive to hummingbirds.
  • viburnifolium, evergreen currant or Catalina perfume (2-4’ x 5-7’), evergreen groundcover that works well under oaks and can provide erosion control to slopes.
  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial ShadeShade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: EvergreenDeciduous
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: PinkRedWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringWinter
  • Fruit Color: BlackBlueRed
  • Bark Color: Brown

Sambucus spp

Elderberry
Organization

Fast-growing shrubs and small trees for sun or part shade that attract pollinators from far and wide to large clusters of cream flowers in spring, followed by berries in summer that provide food to many types of birds. Fruit can also be used for culinary purposes. While naturally fairly wild-looking, elderberries can handle being cut back to the ground in the winter or pruned to maintain size and shape.

Examples:

  • Blue elderberry (S. mexicana [nigra] spp. caerulea, 8-25’) is native from Oregon to Baja California and beyond.
  • Black elderberry (S. nigra, 20-30’) is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia, and is available in nurseries in the form of many named cultivars. Cut leaf black elderberry (S. n. ‘Black Lace’, 8’ x 8’) has intense dark, fine foliage. Cut leaf elderberry (S. n. ‘Laciniata’, 10’ x 10’) has green leaves, and variegated black elderberry (S. n. ‘Marginata’, 6-12’) has variegated leaves.
  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Fruit Color: BlackPurple

Asclepias spp, CA native

Milkweed
Organization

Colony-forming, herbaceous perennials with several species providing important habitat and larval food sources for the monarch butterfly while attracting a diverse array of insects.

California milkweeds remain dormant during the colder months. Stems that emerge in April or May bear clusters of small, star-like flowers in summer followed by silky-tailed seeds that are dispersed by wind. A. fascicularis (narrow-leaved milkweed, 1-3’) is the preferred food source for monarch larvae. A. speciosa (showy milkweed, 2-4’) has larger, soft foliage, showier flower clusters, and is also a food source for monarch larvae. A. cordifolia (heart leaf milkweed, 1-2′) has heart-shaped leaves and is also a food source for monarch larvae.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer